Institute of Archaeology Annual Lecture 2013
Wednesday, 1 May 2013 from 18:30 to 21:00 (BST)
London, United Kingdom
Professor Chris Stringer (Natural History Museum) will give the Institute of Archaeology Annual Lecture on Wednesday 1 May at 6.30pm. His lecture is entitled ‘Human Evolution in Europe’.
The Lecture will be held in the Christopher Ingold XLG1 Chemistry Lecture Theatre, followed by a drinks reception in the Leventis Gallery of the Institute of Archaeology, 31-34 Gordon Square.
Human Evolution in Europe
Thirty years ago, Europe was considered to be a locus for the evolution of Homo sapiens, with the Middle-Upper Palaeolithic transition paralleling a gradual transformation of the Neanderthals into modern humans. However since then, accumulating fossil, archaeological and genetic evidence has suggested that its mid-late Pleistocene record documents the appearance and physical extinction of the Neanderthals. Nevertheless, the early history of humans in Europe is much more complex than that. The earliest occupants may well have resembled those known at Dmanisi, while the species Homo antecessor was present in Iberia around the time of the Matuyama-Brunhes boundary. The mode of transition to Homo heidelbergensis by about 600 ka is uncertain, and the large Sima de los Huesos sample from Atapuerca is central to debate about the status of this species, and its relationship to the Neanderthals. Although it is claimed that this assemblage represents heidelbergensis and dates from ~600 ka, the clear Neanderthal affinities are in conflict with other fossil and genetic estimates of the origin of the Neanderthal lineage. Instead it seems more likely that the bulk of the material is much younger than 500 ka and represents a primitive form of Homo neanderthalensis. By ~400 ka Neanderthal affinities may be apparent at Swanscombe, but more archaic morphologies were still present at Ceprano and Bilzingsleben, and perhaps also at Vértesszőlős and Petralona. Moving on to the late Pleistocene, the physical and cultural juncture between neanderthalensis and sapiens continues to look complex, with new archaeological and chronological data, and genomic evidence of the survival of Neanderthal DNA in extant humans. However, how much interaction there actually was between these populations in Europe and beyond remains to be established.
Picture of Professor Chris Stringer holding the skull of "Cheddar Man", courtesy of the Natural History Museum London.
When & Where
UCL Institute of Archaeology
The UCL Institute of Archaeology is the largest and one of the most highly regarded centres for archaeology, cultural heritage and museum studies in Britain, as evidenced by its top position in university league tables and National Student Survey results. It is one of the very few places in the world actively pursuing research on a truly global scale. Its degree programmes offer an unrivalled variety of courses on a diverse range of topics, and wide-ranging fieldwork opportunities.
The Institute hosts events on many different aspects of archaeology and is linked to heritage organisations, museums and archaeological societies, providing an outstanding research environment for staff, students and visitors.